Scheduled Admittance to a Hospital
If you are scheduled for an upcoming surgery, or if you are giving birth and are scheduled to be hospitalized for any amount of time, there are general procedures that you w ill undertake to become hospitalized. As the patient, this will be quite easy for you as you are being hospitalized at the recommendation of your doctor. In this situation, your doctor can help you with the admissions process and answer any questions you have prior to your scheduled hospitalization.
First of all, your doctor will give you an admission form to fill out. This form, along with your health insurance card and alien registration card, are to be presented to the hospital reception staff upon your arrival to the hospital. When you arrive to the hospital, you give these documents to the nurse at the reception desk, and often they will bring in an English speaking attendant to help you, answer your questions and lead you to the correct part of the hospital.
As nearly every hospital in Seoul has an international clinic, it is always acceptable to go there first if the receptionist does not speak English. If this is a scheduled hospitalization, there will be the right people waiting to help you with whatever you need. You may be asked to present yourself to the international clinic prior to hospitalization as they may be of more help to you during the process.
While it might be possible to pay your hospital bill in advance, it isn’t a common practise because you don’t always know what bills you may incur during your stay in the hospital. Usually, the doctor or nurse will direct you to the payment area of the hospital when your treatment is complete, and then you will pay in full.
It should be noted that upon admittance, scheduled or emergency, into a Korean hospital you will probably be required to pay a deposit for any possible care or necessary procedures needed during your stay. If you exceed the amount paid initially, you will have to pay the extra upon your release from the hospital. Usually, you will see on paper (albeit, in Korean) all of the procedures you have to pay for. If you cannot afford a deposit upon your admittance, you will require a Korean guarantor who will vouch for you until you can pay your bill in full (you must be able to pay by the day you leave the hospital). Luckily, just about everywhere in Korea accepts credit cards, and that includes the hospitals and clinics. You may also pay in cash, if this is your preferred method.
Emergency Admittance to a Hospital
If you find yourself in a medical emergency situation, you first need to decide whether you should call an ambulance or somehow take yourself to a hospital. One should remember that, while in your home country ambulances may have right of way on the road, this is not so in Korea and cars will seldom pull over to let an ambulance pass. In many situations, it is faster to take a taxi. If you or someone you know is in need of emergency care, then you should call an ambulance.
Upon arriving to the hospital, you or a family member will fill out a treatment application form and will have to supply your medical insurance card. If you don’t have your insurance card with you at the time, you will be able to get it after (don’t worry, they won’t turn you away if you need treatment!). After being admitted to the emergency room, a doctor will apply immediate care and decide whether or not you will require further hospitalization. If this is the case, the doctor will issue admission documents that you or whoever is with you will fill out and give to the emergency receptionist.
Please remember to submit a letter of medical necessity (you can get it from your doctor and hand it into the reception desk). If you don’t fill out this form you are liable to pay 100% of all medical procedures you have undertaken, including the ambulance bill.
All hospitals in Seoul will accept emergencies. You can contact any hospital listed in the “medical practitioners” segment of this website. If you are worried about the lack of English in these hospitals, ask to speak to the international clinic. Your bill will be added up upon your release from the hospital and you will be responsible to pay in full (minus the deposit you paid previously).